Recently, I stumbled upon an interesting online tool called The Prioritizer, which basically helps you to make an ordered list of the goals in your life. Once I started playing around with it, though, I quickly found that it wasn’t much help unless you thought carefully about the things you put into it.
Given that, I developed a brief exercise that can really help you define what’s truly important to you and how these things rank in comparison to the other aspects of your life. This exercise should only take a few minutes and it might be quite interesting.
First of all, pull up a text editing program because you’re going to make three short lists.
The first one is what are your five long term goals? Try to identify things you’d like to accomplish ten years from now (or longer). Have a big nest egg? Buy a great house? Have a child? Get married? Own a Maserati? Think about it for a few minutes and try to think about things that are really important to you for the long term.
Next, what are your five short term goals? These are things that you can accomplish in the next two years, such as save up half of a down payment, have a child, get your degree, find a new job, or move into a new home. What’s important to you right now?
Finally, what were your last five unnecessary splurges? What were the last five things you bought that you didn’t need? Did you buy some clothes? A book? A computer game? A gadget? A DVD? What were these things? Make them at least a bit general – you don’t have to name the exact item.
Now that you have a list of these fifteen things, fire up The Prioritizer and enter these fifteen items in the list. Once you do this, The Prioritizer will begin pairing these items up and asking you which one is really most important to you. Don’t do this rashly – sit and think about each one for a few seconds at least and answer honestly. It might be that that new dress you bought actually is more important to you than buying a new home in ten years, or maybe it’s the other way around.
Once you’re finished, The Prioritizer will give you a nice long list of how all of these things actually rank in your life. Print off this list and think about it for a while; you can even fold it up and put it in your pocket and remember that every time you let a lower priority eat your money when a higher priority could really use it, you’re not living towards what is really important to you.